Hunters Hill NSW
In 1959, Raymon Mainsbridge purchased a relatively flat corner block in the Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill and commissioned architect John James to design a family home. James had established his own practice after returning from working in Europe two years earlier. Although Leo Marks was the builder for this house, James became a noted ‘architect-builder’ with a strong crafts-based approach and attention to detail. And he usually began his jobs by designing a building around existing natural features and then merging the building with the landscape. In the case of the Mainsbridge house, one of the most notable features is the flow of indoor spaces into outdoor vistas and courtyards.
The Mainsbridge family remained at the house for 19 years after which there were a series of owners and alterations to the house. By the time the Mainsbridge house was photographed in 2001, the exterior walls of Besser Cement blocks had been painted, exposed timber ceilings filled-in, the kitchen and laundry enlarged and bedrooms added.
The Mainsbridge House is one of five houses and one site of a former house photographed for ‘Fifties houses: plus or minus?’, an exhibition held at Rose Seidler House in 2001. Each of these houses had featured in the 1961 exhibition, 15 Houses by Sydney Architects. The 2001 exhibition asked the questions: ‘Forty years on, what has happened to the… Sydney houses? Have they ‘stood the test of time’, been adapted or conserved, loved or lost?’
Jennifer Taylor, An Australian identity: houses for Sydney 1953-63, Dept. of Architecture, University of Sydney, Sydney, 1972.
Geoffrey London, Philip Goad, Conrad Hamann, 150: an unfinished experiment in living: Australian house 1950-65, UWA Publishing, Crawley WA, 2017.
Royal Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Chapter, 15 houses by Sydney architects: exhibition, Farmer's Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, 1961.
Fifties houses: plus or minus?: exhibition held from 28 October 2001 at Rose Seidler House [exhibition brochure], Historic Houses Trust of NSW, Sydney, 2001.